Monday, January 16, 2012

A Real MLK conversation

I feel sort of bad that I didn't throw a big party for MLK day.  Please don't think it is because I ignored the enormity of Dr. King's heart, or his willingness to speak out against hate. I dressed Gracie in her birthday gift overalls, because I understand that even the legality of our family is a gift that is due to his work and the civil rights activists who came behind him.

It's just that, well, you see, Dr. King had this dream where little brown girls could grab the hands of little white boys and walk as brother and sister and mainly that has looked a lot like WWF wrestling as of late in my family room.

We did have a play date with our friends Jacob and Jeremiah who are originally from Ethiopia and we ate Oreos as a MLK treat.  I think you'll appreciate the humor in the fact that the children adopted from Ethiopia told this white woman her bathroom was dirty and they almost didn't want to use it.  So they are totally American now.  And no, that's not dirt.  The seat is just chipped and we are cheap.

We watched the "I Have a Dream" speech this afternoon and it was not as deep or profound for my children as I'd hoped it would be.  Gracie was chanting "Dabba Dabba?  I want Dabba Dabba!!"

It seems that the masses of people on the mall are no comparison to DJ Lance Rock and Biz Marquee's Beat of the Day.  Please know that when I hear Dr. King say With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope.  With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood, I am moved to tears.  And that when I hear those cracked out Gabba trees sing about sharing my ears bleed and I want to stab my eyes with a fork.

Also, Henry thinks the speech is too long to watch without snacks.  He considers going twelve minutes without a bag of goldfish as epic suffering. Henry just cannot wrap his brain around the sufferings of injustice Dr. King withstood.  He doesn't have a compartment in his brain into which to place racism.  I've tried to explain it and he. just. doesn't. get. it.  The conversation went something like this...

Me: So do you know why we celebrate King Day?
Henry:  Because we don't have school.
Me:  Yes.  You don't have school because it is Martin Luther King, Jr. day.
Henry:  Yes.  That's right.  But I like school.
Me:  I'm glad you like school.  But we celebrate the work of a man named Dr. King today because he spoke out against mean people.
Henry:  I don't like mean people.
Me:  Yes.  Me either. 
Henry: Why were the people mean?
Me:  Well, there were laws that were mean to people with brown skin.
Henry:  Gracie has brown skin.
Me:  Yes.  And there were people with pink skin who were mean to the people with brown skin and the people with pink skin were selfish and greedy and hurtful.

Henry:  I have pink skin!
Me:  Yes.  You do have pink skin.
Henry:  But I'm only mean to Gracie when she hits me.  And she never shares her toys with me.  And sometimes she sits on my head and screams, "I'm a hat!  I'm a hat!" and I don't like that.
Me:  (thinking, I got nothin') Uhhhhh....
Henry:  You have pink skin too.
Me:  Yes, I have pink skin too.  We say that people with pink skin are white and people with brown skin are black.
Henry:  But we're pink, not white.  And Gracie is brown, not black.  And I think you shouldn't be mean to people or be greedy.  That's not sharing or showing the love of Jesus.
Me:  No, no.  You're right.  But, back to Martin Luther King, Jr.
Henry:  Junior?  Like the asparagus?  You know I like Veggietales.  Pistachio is my favorite.  We got that CD at Chick-fil-a.  Did you know I like Chicken and french fries?
Me:  Yes, I know you like chicken and french fries.  And believe me, I know you like to listen to Pisctachio.  But there were these white people...
Henry:  BUT NO ONE IS WHITE!!!  MY SKIN IS PINK!! And maybe a little brown.  And I don't get what this has to do with Veggietales.
Me:  Nothing.  It has nothing to do with Veggietales.  Except the Veggietales love Jesus and so did Martin Luther King, Jr.  So anyway, there were these pink people who did mean things to the brown people and they wanted to keep the brown people away from the pink people.
Henry:  Mommy, you are not making any sense.  Why do the pink people care about where the brown people are? Are the brown people taking the pink people's toys without asking?  Because that makes me mad when Gracie does that and she's brown and I'm pink.  But I don't do mean things to her...okay, well, sometimes I yell at her and then push her.
Me:  Henry, that's not what I'm talking about at all.  Martin Luther King day sort of has to do with sharing and all, but really I just want you to know that God used Martin Luther King to speak out against sin.
Henry:  Sin is bad.  Did you know Jesus died for my sins?
Me:  Yes.  I know that.
Henry: On the cross.  It hurt.  I think he died for the pink people and the brown people.  He loves everybody.  Even you, Mommy.
Me:  Thank you. you want to watch another Martin Luther King, Jr. speech?  Or maybe I could read this board book about him?
Henry:  No thank you.  I'd like to watch Yo Gabba Gabba.  DJ Lance is a brown guy.  And Roby is green.  And foofa is pink like me.
Me:  Yes, Henry.  She is pink.  Just. Like. You.

MLK day fail. 

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